The National Drug Authority (NDA) has learnt of a story in the Daily Monitor of Saturday 30th June 2018, titled: IGG Probes NDA Officials over Abuse of Office. The story stems from yet another petition by Mr. Mark Kamanzi, the interdicted former Head, Legal Services alleging
“abuse of office and causing financial loss to the National Drug Authority by Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, Chairperson NDA & Ms Donna Asiimwe Kusemererwa the Executive Director, National Drug Authority.”
We have reviewed the said allegations and as told to Daily Monitor, we wish to firmly reiterate that each and every one of the allegations in the petition is absolutely untruthful and dishonest and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
To the contrary, it is Mark Kamanzi who has been charged with causing financial loss and abuse of office at NDA and consequently interdicted.
Following investigations by the Criminal Investigations Directorate, Kamanzi was on 9th February 2018 charged with two accounts (abuse of office and causing financial loss contrary to Section 11 (1) and Section 20 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act respectively) at the Anti-Corruption Division of High Court (Criminal Case No. E/037/2018- Uganda Vs. Kamanzi Mark Enoth)
On the advice of the DPP and CID and as provided for under Regulation 38(1) (b) of the Public Service Commission Regulations 2009 S1 No.1 of 2009, Kamanzi was on June 6th 2018 interdicted by the authority. Although he initially resisted the interdiction feigning ignorance on why he had been interdicted, he eventually had to leave office.
We do believe that these allegations are vindictive, malicious and perhaps aimed at diverting attention from his criminal behaviour.
Nonetheless, we wish to respond as follows:
1) ALLEGATION: NDA lost Shs35,400,000 reimbursed to the Secretary to the Authority as legal fees.
Section 54 (5) of the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDP/A) Act provides that; “an employee of the drug authority shall not, in his or her personal capacity, be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings in respect of any act done or omission made in good faith in the Performance of his or her duties under this Act.”
In the civil suit referred to: Miscellaneous Cause No. 186, High Court (Civil Division), although Ms Donna Kusemererwa, was sued in her personal capacity, she was actually being sued for actions executed in her official capacity.
She was represented by Lumonya Bushara and Co. Advocates.
In line with NDA’s HR Manual, the Authority (board) a made a resolution that Ms. Kusemererwa’s fees and the fees for any other staff sued in their individual capacity should be met by the Authority as required by law.
Since Ms Kusemererwa had already paid the lawyers, she was reimbursed through her personal account. Full accountability and proof of payment has been submitted to the authority.
2) ALLEGATION: The Husband of the Secretary to the Authority received illegal allowances while accompanying the wife on a trip to Canada.
The Secretary to the Authority’s contract entitles her to accompanied travel, once a year. This contract was drawn and witnessed by the petitioner (Mark Kamanzi) while he still served as the Head of Legal Services, at NDA.
In addition, the Uganda Public Service, Standing Orders (2010) entitles the accompanying spouse of an entitled officer, the same facilities and or allowances as those of the person they are accompanying.
3) ALLEGATION: NDA board Chairman, Dr Medard Bitekyerezo was privately sued in the case of Kimpi Isabirye vs. AG & Dr Medard Bitekyerezo Misc Cause 227 of 2017, but NDA is illegally meeting his private legal fees.
This is completely false.
Dr Medard Bitekyerezo is meeting his own legal costs in the above referred case. We challenge Mr. Kamanzi to produce evidence to support this allegation.
The payment in question relates to Miscellaneous Cause No. 186 of 2017 where Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo was sued in his capacity as NDA Chairman, together with NDA. These costs were legitimately met by NDA in line with the Section 54 (5) of the National Drug Policy and Authority (NDP/A) Act and the NDA HR Manual.
4) ALLEGATION: That the Medical Access Uganda Limited, a private entity is illegally benefitting from credit facilities extended by the Authority.
The only credit given by NDA is to Ministry of Health and Ministry of Health Partners implementing Government of Uganda programs. Medical Access is implementing a U.S Government funded program to supply ARVs to the Ugandan population and that is the only reason they are given a maximum of 30 days within which to settle their bills.
Medical Access Uganda Limited (MAUL) is a not-for-profit organization started in 1998 as a pilot project of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in collaboration with the Government of Uganda, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and participating pharmaceutical companies.
It has been stated categorically that as Accounting Officer Ms Kusemererwa cannot deny services to Government because of non-payment and yet Government and Government partners cannot pay upfront. If anything the current Accounting officer has taken steps to limit credit to Government and Government related agencies contrary to what was happening prior to 2016.
There is no conflict of interest whatsoever. Conflict of interest assumes derivation of personal benefit from actions or decisions made in official capacity
5) ALLEGATION: The NDA Chairman allegedly, illegally carried out Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) inspections of drug facilities in Oman
This is factually wrong.
The Chairman has never travelled on any GMP inspection.
The travel in question was an invitation from Omer Alshaikh President, OMAB Group to officials from various government agencies and ministry of health, private hospitals and NDA for an inspection visit to Pharma International Company (Amman, Jordan) and Medpharma/ Valeant (Sharjah, UAE).
This is very different from a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) Inspection for Foreign Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Facilities which has clearly laid-out procedures that starts with a formal application process, payment of GMP Inspection fees before the inspection.
We also wish to confirm that OMAB Group has not applied for any GMP inspection and there are no drugs manufactured by OMAB on our drugs register.
All expenses for this trip were met by the host, so there was no loss occasioned to NDA whatsoever.
That notwithstanding, no decision on the certification of any factory has ever been made as a result of any of the Chairman’s trips.
We wish to reiterate our commitment to our core vision of providing Uganda with safe, effective, quality medicines and health care products. Our mission to promote and protect public health through the effective regulation of human, animal medicines and health care products still remains our guiding factor.
While we believe that it is the right and civic responsibility of Mr. Kamanzi to petition the relevant government offices, especially where he thinks there is something going wrong and while we are open to being investigated because we have nothing to hide, we reject strongly the now all-familiar ritual by Mr. Kamanzi of moving to various government offices and or media houses making various allegations against the authority.
These wild allegations are not only damaging to the image of the Authority as well as the persons against whom these lies are being fabricated, but are intended to distract us from effectively delivering on our core mandate.
We wish to urge Mr. Kamanzi to exercise restraint but also call upon everybody to treat these allegations with the contempt they deserve and or hold him to stricter proof of the same.
SECRETARY TO THE AUTHORITY